Yet another “downside” of the thawing tensions between East and West was announced on the BBC today. Sir Edmund Burton was investigating the MOD’s woeful inability to prevent laptops going missing, and one of his conclusions was reported as:
Armed forces recruits from the “Facebook generation” do not take data security seriously enough, a Ministry of Defence security probe has found. (…)
In a highly critical report, he says the MoD had lost its Cold War discipline for data security and there was “little awareness” of its importance among staff. As a result a major security incident had been “inevitable”.
I sort of agree in that such a loss was (and still is) inevitable. However, I am not convinced it is as clear cut as the “facebook” generation or the end of the cold war.
First off, most of these breaches are not made by inexperienced recruits – they are not the sort of person who carries a laptop around with huge amounts of classified material. The people who do this are senior members of staff (even MPs…), I doubt Hazel Blears is part of the “facebook” generation – she simply had material on her machine that shouldn’t have been there and it got stolen. The MOD losses are similar.
Portable IT equipment is a high value target for theives, by its very nature it lends itself to being carted away easily. Of course people will try to steal things like this so any security plan must take that as an assumption and build from there (such as not putting unnecessary data there in the first place…). It is not the cold war’s fault for having the barefaced cheek to end.
The larger “issue” of all this, is despite the poor record, our government is continually trying to record and store more and more data on its citizens. Imagine the security compromise possible when a laptop containing 25,000,000 (not a made up number) people’s ID card details goes missing…
Remind me again why ID cards are good?